On July 5, 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced in the Federal Register (84 FR 32015) a final rule to designate 30 new product categories (along with the minimum biobased content for each category) that will be afforded procurement preference by Federal agencies and their contractors. The rule is effective August 6, 2019. For more information, click here.

In its final rule, USDA is also amending the existing designated product categories for general purpose de-icers, firearm lubricants, laundry products, and water clarifying agents.

For Manufacturers/Vendors: Claiming Preferred Purchasing Status for a Product

Products that meet a USDA-designated biobased product category definition and meet that category’s minimum biobased content are considered “qualified products.” Manufacturers/vendors of qualified products can claim preferred purchasing status for their products. USDA “invites the manufacturers and vendors of qualifying products to provide information on the product, contacts, and performance testing for posting in the online catalog on the BioPreferred website,” According to USDA, “procuring agencies will be able to utilize this website as one tool to determine the availability of qualifying biobased products under a designated product category.” For more information go to the USDA’s “Selling Biobased Products” webpage, click here.

The final USDA rule provides that no later than July 6, 2020, federal agencies are required to give procurement preference for qualifying products in the 30 newly listed categories. Federal agencies responsible for drafting or reviewing specifications for products to be procured must ensure that the relevant specifications require the use of biobased.

30 New Designated Categories and Minimum Biobased Content

The 30 newly designated product categories and minimum biobased content are:

  1. Adhesives (24% Minimum Biobased Content)
  2. Animal habitat care products (22% Minimum Biobased Content)
  3. Cleaning tools (22% Minimum Biobased Content)
  4. Concrete curing agents (59% Minimum Biobased Content)
  5. Concrete repair materials (23 % Minimum Biobased Content for Concrete Leveling and 69% Minimum Biobased Content for Concrete Patching)
  6. Durable cutlery (28% Minimum Biobased Content)
  7. Durable tableware (28% Minimum Biobased Content)
  8. Epoxy systems (23% Minimum Biobased Content)
  9. Exterior paints and coatings (83% Minimum Biobased Content)
  10. Facial care products (88% Minimum Biobased Content)
  11. Feminine care products (65% Minimum Biobased Content)
  12. Fire logs and fire starters (92% Minimum Biobased Content)
  13. Folders and filing products (56% Minimum Biobased Content)
  14. Foliar sprays (50% Minimum Biobased Content)
  15. Gardening supplies and accessories (43% Minimum Biobased Content)
  16. Heating fuels and wick lamps (75% Minimum Biobased Content)
  17. Kitchenware and accessories (22% Minimum Biobased Content)
  18. Other lubricants (39% Minimum Biobased Content)
  19. Phase change materials (71% Minimum Biobased Content)
  20. Playground and athletic surface materials (22% Minimum Biobased Content)
  21. Powder coatings (34% Minimum Biobased Content)
  22. Product packaging (25% Minimum Biobased Content)
  23. Rugs and floor mats (23% Minimum Biobased Content)
  24. Shopping and trash bags (22% Minimum Biobased Content)
  25. Soil amendments (72% Minimum Biobased Content)
  26. Surface guards, molding, and trim (26% Minimum Biobased Content)
  27. Toys and sporting gear (32% Minimum Biobased Content)
  28. Traffic and zone marking paints (30% Minimum Biobased Content)
  29. Transmission fluids (60% Minimum Biobased Content)
  30. Wall coverings (62% Minimum Biobased Content)

Definitions of Newly Listed Product Categories

  1. Adhesives are compounds that temporarily or permanently bind two item surfaces together. These products include glues and sticky tapes used in construction, household, flooring, and industrial settings. This category excludes epoxy systems.
  2. Animal habitat care products are products that are intended to improve the quality of animal habitats such as cleaning supplies, sanitizers, feeders, and products that control, mask, or suppress pet odors. This category excludes animal bedding or litter products and animal cleaning products.
  3. Cleaning tools are objects that are used to clean a variety of surfaces or items and can be used multiple times. This category includes tools such as brushes, scrapers, abrasive pads, and gloves that are used for cleaning. The expendable materials used in cleaning, such as glass cleaners, single-use wipes, and all-purpose cleaners, are excluded from this category, as these materials better fit in other categories.
  4. Concrete curing agents are products that are designed to enhance and control the curing process of concrete.
  5. Concrete repair materials.
    • Products that are designed to repair cracks and other damage to concrete.
    • Concrete repair materials for which preferred procurement applies are:
      • Concrete repair materials — concrete leveling. Concrete repair materials—concrete leveling are products that are designed to repair cracks and other damage to concrete by raising or stabilizing concrete.
      • Concrete repair materials — concrete patching. Concrete repair materials—concrete patching are products that are designed to repair cracks and other damage to concrete by filling and patching the concrete.
  6. Durable cutlery consists of dining utensils that are designed to be used multiple times.
  7. Durable tableware consists of multiple-use drinkware and dishware including cups, plates, bowls, and serving platters.
  8. Epoxy systems are two component systems that are epoxy based and are used as coatings, adhesives, surface fillers, and composite matrices.
  9. Exterior paints and coatings are pigmented liquid products that typically contain pigments to add color and are formulated for use on outdoor surfaces. When these products dry, they typically form a protective layer and provide a coat of color to the applied surface. This category includes paint and primers but excludes wood and concrete sealers and stains and specialty coatings such as roof coatings, wastewater system coatings, and water tank coatings.
  10. Facial care products are cleansers, moisturizers, and treatments specifically designed for the face. These products are used to care for the condition of the face by supporting skin integrity, enhancing its appearance, and relieving skin conditions. This category does not include tools and applicators, such as those used to apply facial care products.
  11. Feminine care products are products that are designed for maintaining feminine health and hygiene. This category includes sanitary napkins, panty liners, and tampons.
  12. Fire logs and fire starters are devices or substances that are used to start a fire intended for uses such as comfort heat, decoration, or cooking. Examples include fire logs and lighter fluid. This category excludes heating fuels for chafing dishes, beverage urns, warming boxes, and wick lamps.
  13. Folders and filing products are products that are designed to hold together items such as loose sheets of paper, documents, and photographs with clasps, fasteners, rings, or folders. This category includes binders, folders, and document covers.
  14. Foliar sprays are products that are applied to the leaves of plants and provide plants with nutrients. These products may also repair plants from previous pest attacks. Examples include liquid fertilizers, foliar feeds, and micronutrient solutions.
  15. Gardening supplies and accessories are products that are used to grow plants in outdoor and indoor settings. Examples include seedling starter trays, nonwoven mats or substrates for hydroponics, and flower or plant pots. This category excludes compost activators and accelerators; erosion control materials; fertilizers, including soil inoculants; foliar sprays; mulch and compost materials; and soil amendments.
  16. Heating fuels and wick lamps are products that create controlled sources of heat or sustain controlled open flames that are used for warming food, portable stoves, beverage urns, or fondue pots. This category also includes wick lamps and their fuels that create controlled sources of light indoors and in camping or emergency preparedness situations. This category excludes fire logs and fire starters and candles and wax melts.
  17. Kitchenware and accessories are products designed for food or drink preparation. These products include cookware and bakeware, such as baking cups, cookie sheets, parchment paper, and roasting bags or pans; cooking utensils, such as brushes, tongs, spatulas, and ladles; and food preparation items, such as cutting boards, measuring cups, mixing bowls, coffee filters, food preparation gloves, and sandwich and snack bags. These products exclude kitchen appliances, such as toasters, blenders, and coffee makers; disposable tableware; disposable cutlery; disposable containers; durable tableware; durable cutlery; and cleaning tools.
  18. Other lubricants are lubricant products that do not fit into any of the BioPreferred Program’s specific lubricant categories. This category includes lubricants that are formulated for specialized uses. Examples of other lubricants include lubricants used for sporting or exercise gear and equipment, musical instruments, and specialized equipment such as tree shakers. This category excludes lubricants that are covered by the specific lubricant categories such as chain and cable lubricants, firearm lubricants, forming lubricants, gear lubricants, multi-purpose lubricants, penetrating lubricants, pneumatic equipment lubricants, and slide way lubricants.
  19. Phase change materials are products that are capable of absorbing and releasing large amounts of thermal energy by freezing and thawing at certain temperatures. Heat is absorbed or released when the material changes from solid to liquid and vice versa. Applications may include, but are not limited to, conditioning of buildings, medical applications, thermal energy storage, or cooling of food. Materials such as animal fats and plant oils that melt at desirable temperatures are typically used to make products in this category.
  20. Playground and athletic surface materials are products that are designed for use on playgrounds and athletic surfaces. Examples include materials that are applied to the surfaces of playgrounds, athletic fields, and other sports surfaces to enhance or change the color or general appearance of the surface and to provide safety and/or performance benefits. Such materials include, but are not limited to, top coatings, primers, line marking paints, and rubberized pellets that are used on athletic courts, tracks, natural or artificial turf, and other playing surfaces. This category does not include the artificial turf or surface itself, as that is included in the carpets product category.
  21. Powder coatings are polymer resin systems that are combined with stabilizers, curatives, pigments, and other additives and ground into a powder. These coatings are applied electrostatically to metallic surfaces and then cured under heat. Powder coatings are typically used for coating metals, such as vehicle and bicycle parts, household appliances, and aluminum extrusions.
  22. Product packaging items are used to protect, handle, and retain a product during activities related but not limited to its storage, distribution, sale, and use. These containers are typically designed to be used once. This category excludes packing and insulating materials and shopping and trash bags.
  23. Rugs or floor mats are floor coverings that are used for decorative or ergonomic purposes and that are not attached to the floor. This category includes items such as area rugs, rug runners, chair mats, and bathroom and kitchen mats. This category excludes products composed of woven, tufted, or knitted fiber and a backing system because these products fall under the ‘‘Carpets’’ product category.
  24. Shopping and trash bags are open-ended bags that are typically made of thin, flexible film and are used for containing and transporting items such as consumer goods and waste. Examples include trash bags, can liners, shopping or grocery bags, pet waste bags, compost bags, and yard waste bags. This category does not include product packaging, disposable containers, or semi-durable and nondurable films.
  25. Soil amendments are materials that enhance the physical characteristics of soil through improving water retention or drainage, improving nutrient cycling, promoting microbial growth, or changing the soil’s pH. This category excludes foliar sprays and chemical fertilizers.
  26. Surface guards, molding, and trim products are typically used during construction or manufacturing. These products are designed to protect surfaces, such as walls and floors, from damage or to cover the exposed edges of furniture or floors.
  27. Toys and sporting gear are products that are designed for indoor or outdoor recreational use including, but not limited to, toys; games; and sporting equipment and accessories such as balls, bats, racquets, nets, and bicycle seats. This category does not include products such as cleaners, lubricants, and oils that are used to maintain or clean toys and sporting gear.
  28. Traffic and zone marking paints are products that are formulated and marketed for marking and striping parking lots, roads, streets, highways, or other traffic surfaces including, but not limited to, curbs, crosswalks, driveways, sidewalks, and airport runways.
  29. Transmission fluids are liquids that lubricate and cool the moving parts in a transmission to prevent wearing and to ensure smooth performance.
  30. Wall coverings are materials that are applied to walls using an adhesive. This category includes, but is not limited to, wallpaper, vinyl wall coverings, and wall fabrics. This category excludes all types of paints or coatings.

Changes to Existing Designated Products

General Purpose De-Icers. USDA has changed the product category name to “De-Icers” and revised the category definition to include both deicers intended for general purpose use as well as those for specialized use. The new definition of “De-Icers” is: “chemical products (e.g., salts, fluids) that are designed to aid in the removal of snow and/or ice, and/or in the prevention of the buildup of snow and/or ice, by lowering the freezing point of water.”

Firearm Lubricants. USDA has revised the firearm lubricants category to include additional firearm care products, such as cleaners and protectants and renamed the category “Firearm Cleaners, Lubricants, and Protectants.” The revised product category definition is: “Products that are designed to care for firearms by cleaning, lubricating, protecting, or any combination thereof. Examples include products that are designed for use in firearms to reduce the friction and wear between the moving parts of a firearm, to keep the weapon clean, and/or to prevent the formation of deposits that could cause the weapon to jam.” USDA has changed the minimum biobased content for the category from 49% to 32%.

Laundry Products. USDA has added the following new subcategory within the laundry products category: Laundry Products—Dryer Sheets (Minimum Biobased Content 90 Percent)

Water Clarifying Agents. USDA has revised the “water clarifying agents” product category by changing its name and expanding its definition to include water treatment chemicals, as well as water clarifying agents. The new name is “Water and Wastewater Treatment Chemicals.” The new definition is: “Chemicals that are specifically formulated to purify raw water or to treat and purify wastewater from residential, commercial, industrial, and agricultural systems. Examples include coagulants, flocculants, neutralizing agents, activated carbon, or defoamers. This category excludes microbial cleaning products.” USDA has changed the minimum biobased content for the category from 92% to 87%.